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Amazon Sidewalk is coming to your neighborhood. Here’s what that means


James Martin / Tips Clear

Amazon has made its sights on the smart home Since Alexa came along – But now the online mega-retailer is thinking big, and imagining the entire smart neighborhood. Previously announced In 2019Called effort Amazon sidewalk, And it uses a small portion of your home’s Wi-Fi bandwidth to pass wireless low-energy Bluetooth and 900MHz signals that allow Wi-Fi in between compatible devices between greater distances Is capable – in some cases, as far as half a mile, Amazon says.

You’ll share that bandwidth with your neighbors, creating a kind of network that any sidewalk-compatible device can take advantage of. When your Wi-Fi does not reach them, it helps to stay connected to things like outdoor smart lights, such as things that will help Tile tracker If you walk out during a walk, or if your dog hollows out the fence, you stay in touch.

Amazon Sidewalk is coming this year as a free feature for Alexa and ring users.


Maybe the most noticeable thing is that for many of us the Amazon Sidewalk will not require any new hardware. Instead, it will be a free software update with eco speakers and ring cameras that people already have in their homes. This means that the infrastructure for SideWalk is already perfect for launching a robust, large-scale network – and it also means that you’ll soon see it as a new feature in your Alexa app (and Yes) you will be able to turn it off).

We will probably learn a lot about the sidewalk on Thursday. Amazon launched its latest devices and services in a virtual program We’ll cover right here on Tips Clear. For now, here we know everything about it.

How does SIDCUL work?

Amazon is naming several of its existing Echo and Ring gadgets (and possibly the majority of its new devices from here on out) as the Sidewick bridge. This means that they equip a small amount of your home’s Wi-Fi bandwidth with siphons and then use it to relay signals to Sidequal-compatible devices using BLE and 900MHz signals. Those types of low-energy signals may not carry much data at all, but they can travel great distances.

Amazon claims that the 900 MHz band, which is the same band used for amateur UHF radio transmissions, allows for limits of up to half a mile. Therefore, if you have an Echo speaker or ring camera in your home, which acts as a sidewalk bridge, you will be able to send wireless signals to sidewalk-compatible devices over a vast area. And, if you have a sidewalk-capable device, such as a tile tracker paired with your sidewalk bridge, you’ll be able to connect with it as long as it’s within half a mile of someone else’s sidewall bridge .

With Amazon Sidewalk, data travels from the device to the application server and back through the Sidewalk Bridge (or Gateway) and Amazon’s Sidewalk Network Server.


Are there any security or privacy concerns?

There is certainly a lot to think about. By design, smart home technology requires the user to share devices and user data with a private company’s server. By expanding the reach of a user’s smart home, Sidewall broadens its scope and uses new potential. That means new features and functionality, yes – but it also means you’ll share more with Amazon.

Jeff Pollard, a Forrester analyst, described his concerns at Tips Clear last year with the example of a dog with a tile-type tracking device strapped to its collar.

“It’s great for getting your dog out of the yard, but those devices can send your data like frequency, duration, destination, and path,” Pollard said. “It sounds intuitively enough, but what can that data mean to you when combined with other data? It’s unintended – and unpredictable – technology results and gathers the data that often bites us Comes back for (forgive the punishment). ” ”

In this example, a ring motion alert passes through three levels of encryption en route to the ring server. During the trip, Amazon cannot see inside that packet – the data needed to authenticate the device and get the transmission to the right place.


Now, as Sidcull prepares to roll out Amazon’s entire user base, the company is stepping up with concerns like those. This week, Amazon released a detailed white paper, taking steps to ensure that SIDCUL broadcasts remain private and secure.

“As a crowdfunding, community benefit, Amazon Sideweek is only as powerful as the trust our customers place in us to keep customer data secure,” Amazon writes.

To that end, Amazon compares Sidgwick’s security practices Postal Service. In this analogy, Amazon’s Sidewalk Network Server is the post office, responsible for sending all your devices back and forth to their application servers and ensuring that everything is in the right place. But the post office doesn’t get to read your mail – it only gets to read outside the envelope. And when it comes to your device data, Amazon says, it uses metadata boundaries and three layers of encryption to create a digital version of the envelope.

Amazon writes, “Information customers will be sensitive to the content of packets sent over the SideMeWalk network, which is not seen.” “Only intended destination [the endpoint and application server] The keys required to access this information are the officers. The design of the sidewalk also ensures that the owners of the sidewalk gateway do not have access to the contents of the packet from the endpoint [they do not own] That use their bandwidth. Similarly, endpoint owners do not have access to gateway information. ”

In other words, Amazon’s server will authenticate your data and move it to the correct location, but the company says it will not read or collect it. Amazon also says that it removes the information used to route each packet of data every 24 hours, adding that it automatically uses the rolling device ID to ensure that Data traveling on the sidewalk network may not be associated with specific customers.

Those are good standards that help clarify the sidewalk in creating new privacy headaches for consumers – but as Pollard points out, it’s important to keep an eye out for any unexpected data results from such expansion and ambitious smart home play Will happen.

How much does my home Wi-Fi bandwidth use sidewalks?

Not much. Each sidewall bridge transmission has a maximum bandwidth of just 80Kbps on Amazon’s Sidewalk Server. Every month, Amazon gives a total data allowance at 500MB, which is roughly equal to the amount of data that the company notes you want to stream in 10 minutes of HD video.

And keep in mind that you are not going to use the sidewalk to stream video or anything else that requires a lot of bandwidth. Sidewalk equipment carries signals back and forth and there are things like authentication requests and quick commands that turn on the lights, things that don’t require a lot of data.

Friday-best-by-amazon-echo-dot-3 generation from cnet black

A wide range of ring cameras and existing echo devices – including every version of the ultrapopular echo dot – will now double as a sidewall bridge.

RE CREST / Tips Clear

What devices will work as a side bridge?

Many of them, as a matter of fact. Here is the list of those that will work after its launch later this year:

It is notable that the list includes a lot of Echo devices, some of which date back to about five years, including the first Echo Dot. This suggests that the sidewalk is something Amazon has been planning for a long time, and also means that millions and millions of sidewall bridges are already installed and ready to move into people’s homes. May be understand it. Early last year, Amazon claimed it had been sold More than 100 million Alexa devices.

Also noteworthy: There are no Ero devices in the list. Amazon bought the mesh router manufacturer in early 2019 And released A new version of its lattice system later that year. There are newer versions of that router Amazon is expected to make a virtual event debut Tomorrow, too – but it doesn’t sound like either of them will double as the Sidgwick Bridge.

Does Amazon Sidewalk Cost Extra?

No. It is a free feature for Amazon device users with no installation or subscription fees.

Ring pathlight - solar-night

To join Sidewalk’s network in the coming year, expect to see things that typically limit your Wi-Fi range like external smart lights.

RE CREST / Tips Clear

What else will work with Sidkul?

We’ll probably know a lot about Thursday’s event and the weeks following, but judging from Amazon’s imagination, it’s safe to assume that the list will include ring smart lights and accessories. Tile is also working on a new, sidewalk-capable tracker for the platform, and it is likely that other manufacturers will follow suit with new equipment of their own. Things like outdoor lights, connected car tech, and smart garage openers that usually sit on the edge of your home’s Wi-Fi range seem like particularly strong bets, but as we learn we update the location will do.

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